The Lilly Brothers

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The Lilly Brothers
OriginWest Virginia; Boston, Massachusetts, US
Occupation(s)Bluegrass artists
Years active1950s–70s
Past membersMitchell Burt "Bea" Lilly
Charles Everett Lilly
Don Stover
Benjamin F. Logan
Joe Val

The Lilly Brothers, (Bea Lilly, born Michael Burt Lilly, December 15, 1921 – September 18, 2005 and brother Everett Lilly, born July 1, 1924 – May 8, 2012) were bluegrass musicians born in Clear Creek, West Virginia. They have been credited with bringing bluegrass to New England and with influencing such future bluegrass artists as Peter Rowan, Joe Val and Bill Keith, among others.[1]


Influenced by the traditional music they heard in their youth, Bea began playing the guitar and Everett the mandolin. In 1938, they made their radio debut on the Old Farm Hour show at WCHS in Charleston, West Virginia. Other radio works followed at WJLS in Beckley, West Virginia and on several other Southern radio stations during the 1940s.[2][3] In 1945, they appeared on the Molly O'Day radio show at WNOX in Knoxville, Tennessee.[2] In 1948, the brothers signed with the WWVA Jamboree in Wheeling, West Virginia as members of "Red Belcher's Kentucky Ridge Runners",[4] but they quit two years later because of a financial dispute and the brothers retired temporarily. In 1951, Everett joined Flatt & Scruggs as mandolin player. The next year, in 1952, 'Tex' Logan, whom they had met at the WWVA Jamboree, persuaded the brothers to reunite.[2]

Everett Lilly (center, seated, with mandolin) and the Lilly Mountaineers, in performance in 2009

The Lilly Brothers moved to Boston and formed a group called the "Confederate Mountaineers" who consisted of the brothers on guitar and mandolin, Logan on fiddle, and Don Stover on banjo.[4] They performed on WCOP's Hayloft Jamboree[3] and as a house band at local clubs such as the Plaza Bar, the Mohawk Ranch, and the Hillbilly Ranch.[4] Soon, they were making records for the Folkways, Prestige and Event labels.[2][5] Somewhere along the line they changed the group's name to the Lilly Brothers.

In the 1960s they appeared in concerts at several major colleges and at folk festivals.[3] The personnel of the Lilly Brothers didn't change between 1952 and 1970 and is considered one of bluegrass music's most stable lineups. The death of Everett Lilly's son, Giles, in a car crash in 1970 brought to an end the brothers’ career in Boston and Everett left the town. For the remainder of the 1970s, the brothers would reunite on several occasions.[2] In 1973 the Lilly Brothers made a tremendously successful tour of Japan, including the release of three live albums.[6] The Lilly Brothers’ career was later chronicled in a 1979 documentary "True Facts in a Country Song".[5] In the 1980s, as Bea retired, Everett and his son Mark played together in the group "Clear Creek Crossin'".[2]

Everett Lilly continued to play and perform with his sons in a band called Everett Lilly and the Lilly Mountaineers until his death in 2012.


Joe Val once said of the Confederate Mountaineers’ influence on urban Massachusetts, Those guys hit on like a bombshell. Nobody’d ever heard anything like that before.[5]

The Lilly Brothers’ singing has been described as rich, mountain-flavoured bluegrass and their brand of dynamic, no holds barred traditional bluegrass has been noted as haunting and earthy.


  • In 1986. the Lilly Brothers were inducted into the Massachusetts Country Music Hall of Fame and Don Stover was inducted the following year.
  • On October 17, 2002, the Lilly Brothers and Don Stover were inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame.[4]
  • In November 2008, the Lilly Brothers were inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame.


78 RPM[edit]

Year Song Titles Label Number
1948 "What Are They Doing in Heaven" / "They Sleep Together Now at Rest" Page 505
1957 "Tragic Romance" / "Are You Tired of Me, My Darling" Event E-4261
1959 "John Henry" / "Bring Back My Blue-Eyed Boy to Me" Event E-4272

[7] [8]


Year Title Label Number Notes
1962 Folk Songs From the Southern Mountains Folkways FA 2433 one side with Don Stover
1963 Bluegrass Breakdown Prestige Folklore FL14010 with Don Stover
1964 The Country Songs of the Lilly Brothers Prestige Folklore FL14035 with Everett Alan Lilly
1970 Early Recordings County 729 with Don Stover, recorded 1956–57
1973 What Will I Leave Behind County 742 with Don Stover
1974 Holiday in Japan, Part 1 Towa TWA 101S with Don Stover & Everett Alan Lilly live in Japan
1974 Holiday in Japan, Part 2 Towa TWA 102S with Don Stover & Everett Alan Lilly live in Japan
1974 Holiday in Japan, Part 3 Towa TWA 103S with Don Stover & Everett Alan Lilly live in Japan
1996 Live at Hillbilly Ranch Hay Holler HHCD1333 recorded in Boston, July 1967
2001 Live at Tamarack 2001 Lilly Bros 5704 with the Lilly Mountaineers
2002 On the Radio 1952–1953 Rounder 1109 with Don Stover
2003 West Virginia, Oh How I Miss You Lilly Bros with the Lilly Mountaineers

[8] [9] [10] [11]

Compilations and reissues[edit]

Year Title Label Number Notes
1977 Bluegrass Breakdown Rounder SS01 reissue of Prestige FL14010
1977 The Lilly Brothers – Country Songs Rounder SS02 reissue of Prestige FL14035
1991 Early Recordings Rebel 1688 reissue of County 729
1999 The Prestige/Folklore Years, Vol 5: Have a Feast Here Tonight Prestige 9919 CD reissue of Prestige FL14010 and FL14035
2001 Newport Folk Festival – Best of Bluegrass 1959–66 Vanguard VCD-187-89-2 2-CD set, includes 5 live tracks by the Lilly Brothers
2003 What Will I Leave Behind Rebel 1788 reissue of County 742
2005 Bluegrass at the Roots Folkways SWF40158 reissue of Folkways FA2433 plus 2 unreleased tracks

Video appearances[edit]

Year Title Label Formats Notes
1979 "True Facts in a Country Song" Burt/Chadwick 16mm/DVD 29-minute documentary by Susan Burt & Doug Chadwick
2005 Festival! Eagle Vision DVD Newport Folk Festival 1963–66, with Don Stover, Tex Logan, and Everett Alan Lilly
2006 Bluegrass Country Soul Time Life DVD Camp Springs, NC Bluegrass Festival 1971, various artists


  1. ^ Carr, Munde 1996, p. 108.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Carlin 2003, p. 233.
  3. ^ a b c Jones 2008, p. 244.
  4. ^ a b c d Erbsen 2003, p. 49.
  5. ^ a b c Wolff, Duane 2000, p. 231.
  6. ^ Black 2005, p. 50.
  7. ^ Pennell, Charley (November 10, 2009). "Blue Grass Singles by Artist". Discography of Bluegrass Sound Recordings, 1942. ibiblio. Retrieved May 11, 2010.
  8. ^ a b Spottswood, Dick (2005). "Some Notes for This Reissue" (PDF). Bluegrass at the Roots, 1961. Smithsonian Folkways. Retrieved March 17, 2010.
  9. ^ Pennell, Charley (February 13, 2010). "Blue Grass LPs by Artist, La-Lz". Discography of Bluegrass Sound Recordings, 1942 –. ibiblio. Retrieved May 11, 2010.
  10. ^ Sparks, Beth. "Discography". Music of The Lilly Mountaineers & The Lilly Brothers. The Lilly Mountaineers. Retrieved March 17, 2010.
  11. ^ "Prestige Records Catalog". Retrieved March 17, 2010.


  • Black, Bob (2005) Come Hither To Go Yonder, University of Illinois Press
  • Carlin, Richard (2003) Country Music: A Biographical Dictionary, Taylor & Francis
  • Carr, Joe – Munde, Alan (1996) Prairie Nights To Neon Lights: The Story of Country Music In West Texas, Texas Tech University Press
  • Erbsen, Wayne (2003) Rural Roots of Bluegrass: Songs, Stories and History, Mel Bay Publications
  • Jones, Loyal (2008) Country Music Humorists and Comedians, University of Illinois Press
  • Wolff, Kurt – Duane, Orla (2000) Country Music: The Rough Guide, Rough Guides

External links[edit]